If you are just joining us, this will make more sense if you hop back to Monday’s post here and then come back. We will wait for you <3
God gave me a little life story today that I think sets the tone for today’s topic:
The Christmas Card
I ran to the grocery today and had quite a cart full. I also had a fist full of coupons that I had not organized as I made my way around the store.
Some items were not available or didn’t price out well and so I had used and unused coupons all mixed together and had basically forgotten which ones I would need when paying.
A young man was bagging my groceries and I had to ask him what kind of lettuce he had just put in one of the sacks. He seemed disgruntled so I said I was sorry.
He told me not to say that. He didn’t like the word “sorry” and don’t use it again.
I was kind of hurt to be honest so I just decided to steer clear of him and finish up and get the heck out of there.
But something stopped me.
As I went to get my overloaded cart, I looked him in the eye and inquired, very kindly, if he was ok with me saying thank you.
… and believe me, I know people who know me are thinking…yeah…right…I bet you did.
But I really did.
It came out in a gentler way than I am capable of when my feelings are dominating my behavior.
Because I have been praying A LOT lately for Jesus to take over me, because I am not doing so great running the show the last few days.
Well, this young man kind of, sort of smiled and said yeah…he didn’t mind that.
And then someone who was using my body and my voice asked something that I certainly had not planned to say…and these words came out of my mouth.
“Do you mind if I ask you why you don’t like the word sorry?”
While I inwardly gasped that I was actually engaging in this conversation and hoping like crazy the kid didn’t go off on me, his expression actually shifted and he answered me thoughtfully.
He told me because its a soft word and he is a rough person.
Whoever had commandeered my brain and vocal chords smiled in a mom-talking-to-a-hurting-child way and said something to the effect that he really should allow people to apologize when they have done something to inconvenience him or cause him trouble and that we all need to forgive and be forgiven for those times.
We finished with a fairly friendly conversation about his other least favorite word, which we totally agreed on…and that was people saying “Perfect!” for all manner of normal things like you gave them your order at the counter for a burger or you don’t take cream in your coffee.
Now I suppose you are wondering what in the world all of that has to do with Christmas Cards, but as I pushed the groceries toward the car I wondered why that young man, who had to be no more than 18, has decided that he is too hard and rough to receive or give apologies.
I would imagine brokenness….
any or all and even more have led him to say that is who he is.
Life scars can harden us and in a mode of self-defense we can close down.
We lose our joy sometimes.
There have been seasons when I didn’t feel like sending cards…too busy…too stressed…too much going on that isn’t Christmas greeting worthy.
Sending Christmas cards and letters has been something Russ and I have done since our first year of marriage.
Our list has grown as we gathered friends and just never marked them out of the address book.
Sadly, we have lost some to the end of life or the demise of a few broken relationships, but we truly have gained more than we have lost so the task can be daunting when ordering and addressing cards.
And then, our family has gone through some hard changes and while I share a lot on this site for the sake of a transparent life that points to the Grace of Jesus Christ shed over this blonde head and heart, there are some things that we simply hold tenderly in a bond of love inside the walls of this home.
So these are the ways I have come to terms with our desire to connect with people who have been a part of our lives and yet not be stressed out in the process:
<3 When it comes to the update letter part, I no longer include that.
I also wait to read the ones we receive until after the fullness of emotions and activities and such that make up the December holidays have passed.
We hang all the pictures on a door in the kitchen, but the letters go into a basket and after the rush and hoopla is over, I sit down and read through each one.
<3 In this current season, our family has basically one day a year besides Christmas day when we are all in the same place at the same time.
At some point, I ask everyone if we could get a group picture and the whole crew obliges to the best of their ability. We take about 25 shots and maybe, maybe…just maybe…one of them will have almost all of us looking at the camera with our eyes open and our tummy’s pulled in. Maybe.
And I have learned to just laugh at the out takes of these photo shoots and the end result because perfect and uniform we are not.
So that is how I have settled on Christmas Cards.
Some of our friends never send a card.
Some never include a picture and either have just their name printed or handwritten after the typed greeting.
Some do a Christmas letter that rivals a brochure for a small community college and some send a photo card without even so much as a return address.
And it’s all good.
Each card is a message that says, whatever is going on this year….we thought of you and wanted to share in the celebration of this Season of love and hope.
Because life changes and we can become like that young man.
We decide we aren’t going to forgive or ask for forgiveness. We aren’t going to let go of the disappointments or rejection. We are going to cease reaching out because it hurts too much.
But Christmas is about being soft.
It’s about getting misty eyed imagining our Lord and Savior wrapped up in crib cloths and his mom and dad and some shepherds standing around while a choir of unimaginable glory sings over their heads.
It’s about letting people know you are alive and yes…this is us this year…and we love you and thought about you and we wanted to say hey…across the miles and the years…your friendship matters to us.
So pray and ask God how to best communicate to those you love, near and far.
Whether you and yours are rejoicing much in this season of Joy and Love and Peace and Hope or as you quietly seek to find the Christ of Christmas in the midst of a broken heart; you were thinking of each one of them.
And then do the thing the way He shows you.
Whether it’s a text or post on facebook, a Christmas newsletter complete with color photos highlighting all your vacations and kids’ accomplishments or just a postcard from the edge…
get your Elmo on and do the thing for His Name and for His Glory <3